The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 125.

monster, St. George and the dragon.7 Even though the style of the anguipede on the amulets may owe something to the Pergamene giants, Syrian and Anatolian influences may have kept the idea of a snake-legged monster before the Egyptians of the Roman period.
If, however, the serpentine characteristics belong particularly to hostile demons, it may seem strange that a monster with snake legs should be chosen as the type for protective amulets. This might be explained by the apotropaic value of monstrous forms, among which the Gorgon's head is the obvious example. On the other hand, serpent forms are not always confined to dangerous monsters. Over the combat scene that has just been described the Palmyrene sculptor has carved two beings of mixed form who are certainly not allies of the anguipede below, but seem to be favorable genii.8 One of them, entirely preserved, has the head and trunk of a winged youth and carries a palm leaf. In place of legs this creature has “the body of a fish, rolled in heavy coils like that of a serpent.” In the illustration (Pl. 20) the “fish body” is not easy to distinguish from that of a serpent; but one must accept the judgment of the experts who have closely examined the original.9 In any case here is a creature, partly human, partly animal, who plays the part of a favorable demon. The example of Kekrops in the myths of Athens comes to mind, but is too remote to serve any purpose here. The Agathodaimon serpents of the later Egyptian religion, often represented with the heads of Sarapis and Isis, are more apposite examples, but they still do not explain the form of the snake-legged god with the cock's head.
We must next consider the question whether the cock's head gives evidence bearing upon the origin of this type. It is well known that the domestic fowl was introduced into Greece at too late a period to enter into the myths of the gods, and this is true of Egypt also, though the bird seems to have been known there at least as early as 1500 B.C., and perhaps even earlier.10 We should look towards some region where the cock had been longer known and was held in higher regard. Persia, because of its greater nearness to India, the home of the domestic fowl, would seem to be the most likely source for any treatment of the cock as a sacred bird or a bird endowed with any special powers; and the religious books of Persia clearly show that it was there regarded as an ally of the powers of light and goodness, and an enemy to evil and demonic beings. Thus in the Vendidad Ahura Mazda is made to say of the cock: “That bird lifteth up his voice at the mighty dawn (saying), ‘Arise men, laud Best Righteousness, contemn the demons'”; and elsewhere it is said that “the cock is created in opposition to demons and wizards.”11

7 Ibid., pp. 168–169.
8 Ibid., pp. 172–173.
9 The tail of the mutilated genius whose upper parts have been destroyed does seem to end in a fin, though even this is not so clear as might be wished.
10 Howard Carter in JEA 9 (1923), 1–4; cf. C. Picard, Rev. de l'hist. des religions, 93 (1926), 92.
11 Vendidad, Fargard 18, 2, 4 (Darmesteter's translation in Sacred Books of the East); Bundahish, 19, 33 (West, in the same series). Compare Zohar (translated by M. Simon), IV, 369 (Wayikra 22 b): the cock calls men to praise God and study the Law; also Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews, V, 173: the cock drives demons away.

Last modified: 2012-10-29 12:04:00